Govt 'must tackle alcohol abuse'

Ministers are focusing too much on binge drinking and its subsequent anti-social behaviour rather than wider issues of alcohol misuse, according to a committee of MPs.

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Government committed to tackling serious problem of alcohol misuse

"We are committed to tackling the serious problem of alcohol misuse and we are pleased that the committee supports many of the measures in our strategy.

The introduction of a minimum unit price has the backing of the medical community including the Royal College of Physicians and could mean around 900 fewer alcohol-related deaths per year by the end of the decade.

Through our Alcohol Strategy we want to reduce the number of people drinking to harmful levels. We have overhauled the Licensing Act to give more powers to local licensing authorities to tackle problem premises.

– A Department of Health spokeswoman

Call for government to monitor impact of minimum alcohol pricing

I particularly welcome the Committee's recognition of the insidious and pervasive health damage from chronic use - they have clearly listened to the voice of medical bodies to conclude that it's not just about young people binge-drinking but the chronic health harms that affect many people in the UK.

I am pleased to see the Committee's support for setting a minimum unit price for alcohol and agree that the price should be set at a level that is shown to be effective, and that a clear process is needed for monitoring and adjusting the price over time.

– Sir Ian Gilmore, Royal College of Physicians special adviser on alcohol

RCN backs alcohol pricing plan

We fully support the Health Select Committee's recommendation that more emphasis must be placed on the health effects of alcohol misuse on individuals and families in the long term. This is often a result of high levels of alcohol consumption across society.

"The RCN has repeatedly said it strongly supports the introduction of a minimum unit price. Selling alcohol at rock-bottom prices clearly plays a significant role in increasingly the level of alcohol consumption."

– Peter Carter, Royal College of Nurses (RCN) chief executive


Alcohol bosses question Health Committee's report

We regret the Committee's readiness to support minimum unit pricing when by its own admission there is a lack of evidence about the specific effects of different price levels.

Given that, it must make sense for the Government to apply a 'sunset clause' to minimum pricing as the Committee suggests.

– Miles Beale chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association

We welcome the Select Committee's view that the majority of people enjoy alcoholic products responsibly and that alcohol producers and retailers are vital partners in helping to tackle the harms caused by misuse.

It is deeply disappointing that they have failed to understand the significance of the innovative unit reduction pledge, supported by all major producers, retailers, and leading wholesalers who have committed to lower the alcohol content of leading brands, and introduce new ranges of lower alcohol products.

– A spokesman for the Portman Group, a body for alcohol producers

Alcohol consumption 'causes significant medical, psychological and social harm'

While the BMA believes there are a number of positive aspects in the Government's alcohol strategy, principally the aim to tackle the availability and price of alcohol, we agree with the Health Committee that the wider health issues associated with drinking too much need more attention.

"The scale of alcohol consumption in England causes significant medical, psychological and social harm and places a huge burden on the NHS.

"This is not caused by binge drinkers alone but is a result of the high level of consumption across the population."

– BMA's director of Professional Activities Dr Vivienne Nathanson

Minimum alcohol pricing debate

This is not a one off event. You don't as a Government introduce a minimum price for alcohol, set the price, problem solved. Prices and the economy change all the time, so once you've adopted the policy of minimum pricing of alcohol, the Government has to set up a process that sets that price and keeps it up to date based on evidence.

If you're going to set a price which is different from the Scottish price, then you have to think through what the implications of that would be in particular for the alcohol trade in the north of England. All those issues need to be thought through.

– Conservative committee chair Stephen Dorrell
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